If you own a vehicle in North Carolina, you probably need an annual NC DMV inspection. In most counties, you also need an emissions test. In order to drive your vehicle, these are requirements. If you don’t get an inspection or if you fail your inspection, you cannot legally drive your car.
We are an official North Carolina inspection location. Here’s what you need to know about passing your inspection and emissions test.
What an NC DMV Inspection Checks
A licensed mechanic will check your vehicle during your state inspection. These safety checks make sure your vehicle is safe to operate on the road. It does not necessarily ensure your vehicle won’t break down. Here’s what it does check:
- Lights, including headlights, brake lights, accessory lights, and signals
- Brakes – both your foot brake and parking brake
- Tires – they must have the required amount of tread
- Windshield wipers
Additionally, the inspection will ensure you can properly see out of all windows. You may fail if your view is obstructed. Commonly, this is an issue with tinting above acceptable levels.
The state sets the pricing for your safety inspection. You can read more about it here.
Window Tinting Requirements
In order to pass your NC DMV inspection, any window tinting must be within acceptable bounds. A mechanic must check any after-market tinting with an approved window tint meter. This incurs an extra charge at the time of inspection. If your vehicle’s manufacturer tinted the windows, a mechanic doesn’t have to check the tinting.
Here in North Carolina, window tinting cannot exceed 32%. It also cannot extend below your front windshield’s AS1 line or more than five inches from the top of your windshield, whichever is longer. Unless you have an exemption, your vehicle will fail inspection if it doesn’t follow these guidelines.
Some vehicles, such as limousines and motor homes, are exempt from window tinting rules. You may also qualify for a medical exemption. If you have photosensitivity, you can apply for a special permit. These permits are valid for up to five years and you must display your medical exception sticker on your back window if you have one.
Along with an annual state inspection, you may need an annual emissions test. This is required here in Forsyth county, as well as 21 other counties in North Carolina. You can see the full list here. If you live in the Triad, you most likely need an annual emissions test for your vehicle.
That said, there are a few types of vehicles that do not need an emissions test. There are exemptions for some newer vehicles that have fewer than 70,000 miles. Additionally, diesel-operated, registered farm vehicles, and vehicles that are older than 20 years do not need an emissions test.
If your vehicles fails the emissions test, don’t worry. You might be eligible for a waiver. You must pass the safety inspection, however, in order to receive this waiver.
What Happens if You Fail Your NC Safety Inspection
Vehicles that don’t pass inspection need repairs to be able to pass inspection. You can have them done here at Kernersville Auto Center, but you are also welcome to shop around if you wish. Typically, we can do repairs at the time of inspection. Many vehicles simply need a new light bulb to replace one that has burned out, for example.
If you need larger repairs, you have time to get them done either with us or with another shop of your choice. You’ll need to fix the problem and get a re-inspection within 60 days. As long as you bring your car back to us for the re-inspection within the appropriate time period, you don’t have to pay the state inspection fee again.
How to Ensure You Pass your Annual Inspection
The easiest way to ensure you pass is to keep your car in good conditional all year long. Before your inspection, check the following:
- Do all your lights work?
- Is your tire tread at least 2/32 inch deep?
- Are your windshield wipers in good condition, with no rips?
- Does your horn work?
- Are your mirrors free from cracks and otherwise in good condition?
- Do your turn signals work?
For other issues, we can help. The mechanics in our shop are ASE-certified and have experience with a wide range of vehicles. Along with minor issues, one of the most common issues during inspections is worn brakes. If your breaks are not in good working condition, your vehicle won’t pass inspection. We offer a free brake inspection to let you know if your brakes are in good condition. If they aren’t, we can tell you about your replacement options.
FAQs about Car Maintenance
Along with ensuring you pass your inspection, we can also help with other vehicle maintenance needs. The inspection only covers what keeps your vehicle safe on the road. However, it doesn’t check things like your battery or transmission to keep your car from breaking down. Here are a few frequently asked questions about vehicle maintenance.
Do I need an oil change for my state inspection?
One of the most common and important things you’ll need to do for your vehicle is have your oil changed regularly. This isn’t required by your state inspection, but it is important for keeping your engine running. We offer both conventional and synthetic oil changes, along with other general maintenance and car washes.
Do I need an engine tune up?
A tune up can keep your car running smoothly and find small issues before they become big problems. Our mechanics will explain any issues in easy-to-understand language so you can make the best decisions for your vehicle.
Stop by any time for your annual state inspection. For other services, click here to schedule an appointment.